What we definitely have an abundance of is stones, so we’ve decided to make use of them. Steps, a stone garden, rocky walls, any excuse to pile them decoratively out of the way.
And we have a worm issue. After 10 days of digging, we’ve only found one. The others annoyed by the bulldozers have dug too deep to do any good. We’ve negociated the bar’s coffee grounds and are coming up with compostable material to create our own.
And yes, we really need a nearby space to store our tools and a wheelbarrow…
Finally a bit of rain and the grass has sprouted. We absolutely needed something green for motivation, so we added some lavander, rosemary, thyme, lemon balm, rudbeckia and Japanese anemone. It is starting to look a bit like there might be a plan here.
The garden’s first baby was born last night and we’ll soon be planting leeks in Lancelot’s honour. Not that he’ll be eating them in the spring, but perhaps he’ll come by and visit them, ripping them out by himself.
But today, Jucai planted lots of mysterious seeds from China. We could somewhat guess what they were to be from the pictures on the labels, even though they were airbrushed perfect veg, so it was hard to imagine such shiny items coming out of our plot. Jucai seemed to know what they all were, though he wasn’t actually confident they would all sprout in our fall soil. I, for one, am very interested to see what a really big green radish tastes like in case they do.
Juliette came by and made more little plant labels out of fruit crates and Thomas our latest convert to the cause found some mud boots his size and did some measurements and put some back work into turning over the second smaller triangle soil.
Trying to get in a crop before winter is no easy task. For the moment, we have no water and the normally rainy fall weather has not yet replaced this lovely Indian summer. The new soil is packed down and needs to be completely turned over and our tools are far away from the plot hidden in plain sight. Not to mention that classes are starting, babies are being born and our budget is rather tight.
Despite all that, our plot is being filled in in baby steps, today’s being: garlic, rhubarb, white mustard, buckwheat and rye as green manures (an organic way to add nutrients and hummus to the soil).
We truly need a composter to get going (as well as a source for compost) as the school’s cafeteria apparently has no fresh fruit or vegetable peelings. I’ve been getting to know the soil for the last week and have not come upon one single worm. Not good.
The idea of beginning a garden from zero means that initially your design is all that is there. The garden exists in your head, but when it rains, all there is is mud. Then when it’s sunny, the mud dries and cakes up where you’ve stepped when it was muddy.
But the vision of the garden-to-be hangs in the air, in the soil, inside the seeds, on the piece of muddy paper under the rock you’re using as a guide to remember why you’re sweating and rubbing blisters into your hands. This is gardening.
This week we managed to create a triangle out of grass seed, being eyed and cawed at all the while by a huge crow sitting in the nearby oak tree. We thought it safe to plant CDs on strings over the path as a shiny bluff into the air at him, though I’m not ever sure crows eat grass seed, though I know from experience that blue tits and sparrows do and they are never far. Little midges and wasps found us as well as a white butterfly, as a sign of good weather (« papillon blanc signe de beaux temps »).
We also managed to get radishes, white onions, batavia lettuce, parsley, strawberry shoots and a tiny abused sorrel plant in on the warmest of September days.
Fortunately, the construction site next door has huge dumpsters full of wood we pilfered and set down to walk between rows and eventually to make a composter out of. This weeks’ design project also gave us a pile of string, tarps and dried bamboo poles for stakes.
Today, Jucai brought in a bag of Chinese chives that needed to be planted right away. They taste like a mixture of chives and garlic and are needed to make Chinese dumplings. He also had a couple of celeriac plants to go behind them.
We started planting in the corners and will work our way up from there.
The next step is planting grass around the edge of the plot to hold the soil in place.
A first glimpse at tracing our triangles. Our string wasn’t quite long enough, the weather was crap, there was a discrepancy with the math and we didn’t really have enough wicker, but I think our triangles are equilateral enough to get going and we are now officially the caretakers of this tiny plot.
All gardens start with dirt and ours has already good smelly dark brown loam.
Now to the drawing board.